Friday, January 25, 2013

The Pageantry and Brutality of the Renaissance: The Deadly Sisterhood by Leonie Frieda


The Renaissance was a time of contradictions: sumptuous courts, exquisite art and architecture, classical works of literature, but also greed, malice and murder. It was a time when political disputes were often solved by the dagger. Women as well as men played a significant role in this turbulent time: Lucrezia Burnabuoni, who helped her son Lorenzo d'Medici rule Florence; Caterina Sforza, who tricked her husband's assassins into letting into the fortress of Ravaldino where she held them off and overcame the rebels; the sisters, Isabella and Beatrice d'Este, first ladies of the rival kingdoms of Mantua and Milan; Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Pope Alexander VI; and more. A colorful cast of characters skilfully brought to life.

This well-researched book reads almost like a historical novel. The setting has all the elements of romance and intrigue, and the ladies who ruled the Italian peninsula were strong women whose lives were full of political intrigue, violence, and romance. The author does an excellent job of showing them to us as real people with loves, hates, and fears.

It does take concentration to read the book. I found the Italian names confusing in the beginning, but I gradually got used to them. There are a great many characters with the same or almost identical names. However, it's worth the trouble to sort them out.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy history, or even if you love a good story. This is not an easy, light book, but it is well worth reading.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.